By Mark Elezaj
Keith Thurman returns to the ring after being sidelined for 22 months this Saturday night, when he defends his World Boxing Association welterweight world title against challenger Josesito Lopez.
Thurman has not seen action since he fought in March of 2017, beating Danny Garcia by split decision to unify the 147-pound titles. In April of that year, Thurman had surgery to remove calcium deposits from his right elbow. Then in March of 2018, he suffered a left hand injury which put his comeback on halt again.
“The real morbid thinking and the real frustration didn’t hit until the second injury, when I hurt my hand and postponed me even further, I didn’t like the inactivity. I didn’t like being stagnant.”
Thurman was stripped of his World Boxing Council welterweight world title because he was unable to make his mandatory defense against Shawn Porter in a rematch. The fans started to criticize Thurman, questioning him as a fighter and voicing their opinions via social media.
Thurman said he did not let the criticism get to him. He did however see some of the things the fans were saying about him on social media and his response was he couldn’t help but laugh.
“A lot of opinions just really don’t get to me, If anything, some of them were humorous and my favorite, you know — I’m Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman. I’m Keith ‘Run Time’ Thurman, Keith ‘Sometime’ Thurman, Keith ‘Once Upon a Time’ Thurman. That was pretty amusing.”
Thurman weighed in Friday for the upcoming fight at the Barclays Center at 146.6 pounds. He says says it’s “felt like a lifetime” since he last fought but “Saturday night, the champ is back”.
“There’s always a little level of nerves for a fight, but it’s mostly anticipation.”
“The nerves are very natural, but they are not overpowering. I like to carry some nerves with me for each fight.”
Thurman’s opponent, Josesito “The Riverside Rocky” Lopez (36-7 19 KOs), also weighed in at 146.5 lbs. This is Lopez’s biggest fight since his victory over ‘Vicious’ Victor Ortiz in 2012. Lopez now works with trainer Robert Garcia and has looked very confident during the lead-up to the fight.
Thurman has taken notice.
“He’s been catching some momentum. He’s got a new trainer, new set of confidence, he wants to showcase his skills and talent. I want to remind the world who Keith Thurman truly is.”
With such a long period of time away from the ring for Thurman, it’s going to be interesting to see how he performs this Saturday night. No, you can’t rule out an upset in this fight due to the recent activity of both fighters. Lopez does have some pop in his punches and he’s more than willing to turn the fight into a brawl.
After both fighters weighed in, Thurman and Garcia had an intense stare down with neither one of them wanting to give in to turn away.
“I saw a ready fighter,” Thurman said, “we’re going to have a great fight. He looked great, but his eyes aren’t his hand, baby. He’s going to get hit tomorrow night, believe that.”
Thurman turned 30 in November.
“I was 28 years old the last time I fought. I’m 30 now. It’s just a little disappointing, missing some of those years of my youth,” Thurman said. “But luckily I still am in my prime and just being in shape now motivates me for my future. Watching Manny Pacquiao win a fight at 40 years old also motivates me. So there were moments where I had some morbid thinking and negative thoughts, but at the end of the day, we’re back in action. And we’re really excited. And we’re looking forward to the future.”
Thurman said that he wants to stay active and has his sights set on some big names. He said he wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, WBC champion Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Thurman also states that IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. is someone he wants to fight at some point in the future as well.
~The Fighting Voice~